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Screwball rotation?

Apr 28, 2014
1,193
63
I mentioned this is in a different thread...but we really don't know enough to make a blanket statement that bullet spin pitches don't break.

It would be possible to throw a bullet spin pitch where the axis of rotation with the ball is different than the direction of the ball flight.

If that happens, then the seam orientation is not symmetrical. One side of the ball would have more drag than the other side of the ball, and the ball would break.

Here is a Rachel Garcia riseball:


This is clearly a bullet spin pitch. Yet, the batter swings 6 inches below the ball....suggesting that it was a riseball.
That's the spin!!!!! yes!
 
May 15, 2008
588
28
Cape Cod Mass.
Sliders break because of the change in trajectory. When we visualize a pitch we tend to think that it travels more or less in a flat trajectory, but this is not the case. As a ball loses velocity it 'falls' more, but the axis of spin remains pointed in the same direction. If you stood on a cliff and threw a bullet spin pitch at first the air would flow over the ball from front to back, but as the pitch loses velocity and 'falls' down through the air the direction of flow around the ball changes, but the axis of spin stays the same. So the ball falls sideways as it slows down. If the spin axis is pointed up a little the effect takes place earlier in the pitch. Essentially it turns into a curveball.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,976
83
Dallas, Texas
As you said earlier, the axis matters greatly. When I played baseball we called straight bullet spin sliders "cement mixers" (since they had that completely sideways spin) and they get hit very hard. But, turn that axis so that it spins slightly more over the top and you get a sharp slider.
Exactly.

It seems the same principle is at work with Garcia's riseball.
 
May 30, 2013
1,293
63
Binghamton, NY
Here is a Rachel Garcia riseball:


This is clearly a bullet spin pitch. Yet, the batter swings 6 inches below the ball....suggesting that it was a riseball.
The Garcia "riseball" is what DD and I call "big dot" bullet spin,
which is a different seam orientation than a straight up, feathered release "bullet" (we call that one "small dot")

In the "big dot" the widest part of the ball without seams (inside the "horseshoe") is what is facing the batter as the ball travels toward the plate.

In "small dot" the narrowest part of the ball between the "narrows" of the seams is what faces the batter.

in our experience, the big dot "rise" falls a LOT less that a small dot "rise"
(but neither are as magical as a true back-spining 4-seam rise!) <<<unicorns and rainbows

also, if the axis of the 'bullet spin can be turned slightly upward from level to the ground, that also seems to help with these quasi-riseballs.

Can a quasi-riseball be effective? you bet! Garcia certainly proves this.
and a 45' distance with 65mph velocity certainly helps her cause.

Regarding balls breaking in a direction NOT in the direction of spin axis?
2-seamers break very counter intuitively. This break is resultant of sluggers suggestion of asymmetrical spin of the ball,
meaning one side of the ball has more seam-drag than the other (smooth side). If you have ever caught a good 2-seamer or experimented with one - you know what I mean... but this pitch seems very "finicky" and if the spin axis and seam orientation aren't just-so, you get a flat pitch. a 2-seamer with drop spin will "tail" hard left/right because of the asymmetry - Magnus Effect.
 
Last edited:

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,976
83
Dallas, Texas
Thanks for your insight, @corlay. I'm trying to understand a few things.

I call "big dot" bullet spin, which is a different seam orientation than a straight up, feathered release "bullet" (we call that one "small dot")

In the "big dot" the widest part of the ball without seams (inside the "horseshoe") is what is facing the batter as the ball travels toward the plate.

In "small dot" the narrowest part of the ball between the "narrows" of the seams is what faces the batter.{/QUOTE]

Could you post a picture showing the seam orientation?

in our experience,
You and your DD? Or are you a PC?

I hope that the 2020 Summer Olympics will help enlighten us.
 
May 30, 2013
1,293
63
Binghamton, NY
Thanks for your insight, @corlay. I'm trying to understand a few things.
I don't have any pics handy.

But "big dot" definitely results from kids learning the rise or curve, and the cupping of the wrist that is requisite for these pitches.
the big dot is neither a curve or a rise, but it has some limited qualities of both.

"small dot" results from a feathered/inside release of what would be drop spin.
this is a natural early result of learning I/R mechanics.

When I say "we" I mean that my DD was a pitcher for a long time (8-15yrs old),
and because we had a top-notch instructor for the latter of that time period,
DD and I both learned to recognize spin. (I caught her during this time...)
It helps her immensely as a hitter, and makes me a better casual observer. ;-)

We see a fair amount of both types of spin at tournaments.
The big dots are a lot more effective, and batters usually swing under them,
fouling them back or missing entirely.
 
Feb 7, 2013
3,185
48
Confused too. In a perfect world for a RHP's perspective, the screwball will be spinning from right to left (3 o'clock directly across to 9 o'clock, the opposite of curve ball spin) creating side spin to make the ball move to the right. Since most pitchers never get perfect side spin on their screwball, it's more like titled down, 4 to 10 or 5 to 11 spin direction. Nothing should be counter-clockwise from the pitcher's perspective.
 

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